Google Keyword Tool vs. Google PPC Live Data

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We often estimate paid search and organic optimization campaigns for clients. The question is how much traffic can you expect to be brought into your site?”  A lot of time, we base our estimates by using Google’s toolset. Why?”  It’s free. It’s easy.

We decided to compare results for the Google Keyword Tool (which is free and quick to use) vs. Google PPC Live Data (you will need to setup a Pay-Per-Click “PPC” account). We wanted to see whether the Keyword Tool reported the same results from an actual live PPC campaign.

Our results found the following:

  1. Google Doesn’t Report all results.
    It seems as if the result base is too small, it is just not reported. You get “Not enough data.””  What is too small?”  Seems like anything less than 90 searches per month for local, although Global reported down to 12. However, we noticed that in the live campaign, there were actual results.
  2. Google Overestimated in Some Areas
    When comparing the actual data between our accounts and the Keyword Tool,”  Google did over estimate in most areas. This is probably due to the campaign settings and our campaigns showing the ads evenly over time. Our campaign settings are for US geographic area, budget was moderate to high for these campaigns (so the ads show all the time), and set to Standard delivery. Since it is on standard delivery and US, it probably did not show every time.

What can you take from this?

  1. If a campaign says “Not enough data”, don’t fully believe that. The results may just be too low to track for Google to disclose. We have several instances where a keyword phrase did get impressions, even when the data returned “Not enough data.””  Is this data miniscule, definitely. It’s typically 3 impressions per day or less, so nothing too big for most companies worry about. However, if you had a keyword phrase list of say 100 of these small phrases, that could add up for a small business. For instance, 100 keyword phrases x 3 possible impressions per day is a campaign of 300 total possible impressions per day. If you get a CTR of 5%, then that would be 15 clicks a day. While not a huge campaign, it could be a lot for a small business that is targeting micro-niche phrases. Bottom line, even if “not enough data” is shown, go ahead and add the phrase into the mix – just use your common sense.
  2. When estimating possible clicks for a campaign, it’s best to not state the full amount shown by the Keyword Tool to the client. For instance, on most of our campaigns, Google overestimated the amount of impressions we would get in the Keyword Tool by 50% or more. Again, this is not Google’s fault. Rather, this is because of our campaign settings and budgets. However, when you are estimating to a client in a meeting, you might want to say that is the high-end of potential impressions. Your campaign will probably not get all possible impressions. That way you can use the left over ad budget for other campaigns or ideas.

Our raw data is below (screenshot of our spreadsheet). The three campaigns we took were for a large campaign for a law firm (Probate in Florida), a very small campaign (Chiquita terrorism cases), and another slightly larger campaign (false claims law). We did this because those three campaigns had full data for July to compare and had the budgets set high enough to supposedly show the ads all the time. In some PPC campaigns, you can never have a high enough budget (i.e. injury law), so the data is even more skewed.

Feel free to chime in with your comments and estimations on our report. Love to here other people’s results in this area.

Spreadsheet displaying keyword data for July 1 to July 31, featuring columns for Avg Position, PPC Account, Google Keyword Tool vs. Google PPC Live Data, and their respective differences for two keyword categories.

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